Monthly Archives: July 2017

Some thoughts on Secondary Progressions…who needs transits? Part One

‘I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.’ John O’Donohue

Consider this surprise. Astrology textbooks tell you that the planets from Jupiter outwards move so slowly by progression that their shifts are of no consequence. On the very day in June 2016 that my third house Jupiter moved by secondary progression from life-long occupancy of Scorpio into Sagittarius, I was offered a large library of astrology books from a university lecturer whose wife, a keen student of astrology, had recently died.

“Phoebe” a participant in the 1997/8 research I did on Jupiter/Uranus conjunctions, started piano lessons for the first time and became very interested in fashion/image in 1997, the year her natal Neptune in Libra went direct by secondary progression. No doubt readers could add their own examples of progressed planetary effects which supposedly are of no consequence!

Introduction

I am very well aware that there are several ways of progressing a horoscope which are no doubt valid. However, traditional Secondary Progressions or SPs as I shall now call them for short, are the only type which have consistently spoken to me with great accuracy. These are calculated by moving the planetary positions in the ephemeris for the day of birth forward one day for every year of a person’s life, offering a means of determining the timing, and understanding the meaning, of significant developmental points in that individual’s unique unfolding journey.

In this article, I am not proposing to reinvent the astro-wheel by offering detailed tuition on what SPs are, how to calculate them, work with them, and relate them to whatever transits may be in operation at any given time. There is plenty of information of that type available on the Web, as a quick Google search will reveal. However, my USA colleague Dawn Bodrogi in my estimation has done the finest recent work on the topic. You can find her writing at The Inner Wheel (1).

Instead, my aim is to offer a personal reflection on Secondary Progressions, continuing in the same spirit as the opening paragraph. I’d like to share my clients’ experiences of those mysterious symbolic tools, as well as my own. My observations are also offered to experienced practitioners in such a way that they can take a moment: to step back from their astro-toolkit and be freshly awestruck by the essential Mystery which SPs evoke.

Most of all, I’d like to intrigue and inspire readers who are fairly new to astrology to begin their own journey into this misty, awesome territory.

From the time I discovered SPs as a Faculty of Astrological Studies student in the 1980s, they have fascinated me. This fascination was amplified as I slowly became an experienced astrology teacher, using my classes (as you do) for the brilliant qualitative research opportunities ‘on the hoof’  that they undoubtedly provide.

When you first go round a class of a dozen students, tracking their Suns changing signs by secondary progression, discovering their corresponding life changes as well as your own, it does rather cause you to scratch your head – after you and your students have come down from the sheer buzz of it all – and ask “But why does astrology work ?And why does a purely symbolic technique like SPs seem to work too ?” 

Help is at hand – from quantum science

Ancient Stargazers

Ancient Stargazers

Good questions, which astrologers have been asking for centuries, millennia probably, ever since those Chaldean priests on their chilly watchtowers scanned the night skies for helpful advance warning signs that their kings and kingdoms were under threat. I do not propose in this short article to add to the vast amounts of erudite speculation which has arisen from such questions.

However, very briefly, my conclusion is this: modern science has demonstrated that we live, move and have our being as part of a vast energy field which ripples and changes in a sinuous, shapeshifting dance between order and chaos, order arising out of apparent disorder, in invisible patterns which would appear to hold 4 % matter, 23 % dark matter, and 73 % dark energy together in a vast cosmic web.

I think that astrology works by tracking and mapping those energy patterns through planetary cycles against the backdrop of either the constellations via sidereal astrology, or our more familiar tropical astrology which is pegged to the ecliptic. By a blend of astronomical calculation, mythic imagination, intuition, and observation of correlations between life on Earth and planetary movements over millennia, humans arrived at a way of deriving meaning from the energies generating the solar system, our tiny corner of that vast cosmic web.

It is no surprise that reductionist thinking cannot cope with the possibility that something of great value to the human project could have arisen from this eclectic weave.

There are several ways in which one can creatively reflect upon that 4%, 23% and 73 % ratio. I like to think of it in terms of the worlds of consciousness, personal unconscious and collective unconscious, finding Jung’s term ‘psychoid’ very useful in enabling me to make sense of energies which can and do manifest simultaneously, all the way from very obvious and tangible to being highly influential in a person’s life although invisible to the wider world.

For example, consider the client I saw some years ago with a dominant Saturn square Neptune aspect in his horoscope. “James” ’ profession was highly tangible: he made musical instruments. But a significant factor in the unfolding pattern of his life, also linked to that Saturn/Neptune square, was his having had to survive growing up with a severely alcoholic father. Being very aware of an inherited tendency to indulge in addictive escapist behaviours, he was trying to address this when he came for a consultation – as his secondary progressed Sun triggered natal Saturn square Neptune.

I think that an important part of the creative value of being a practising astrologer lies in helping clients like James to understand, accept and work constructively with the shape-shifting potential inherent in the particular energies with which they came into the world.

From the above perspective very briefly outlined, it isn’t too difficult to tie in the planetary patterns in the sky here-and-now to the static picture of the natal horoscope. You are working, at least in part, with what you can actually see. However, in working with SPs, you are stepping into the mysterious, intangible world of the purely symbolic.

I find that my (metaphorical at least!) understanding of that 4%, 23% and 73 % ratio is very helpful in feeling comfortable with such mysterious territory. That which cannot be seen, perceived or understood via our five senses within the 4% world of matter, still has energetic validity in the landscape of the unseen 96% – that which modern science tells us is there, although we can only perceive it by inference and don’t yet know what it is.

Secondary progressions and family inheritance

The most striking example of  the mysterious power of SPs that I have ever had, occurred a number of years ago when I was playing around with the weave of interconnectedness which you find as soon as you begin to spend time looking at family horoscopes.

Having acquired the birth certificates of all four of my grandparents, three with accurately recorded birth times, and having calculated their horoscopes, I took a notion to progress the birth charts of the two grandparents who had been most significant for me, and whose characteristics I most clearly recognised blended in myself, ie my maternal grandfather Calum and my paternal grandmother Isabella – both born in different years at different times. I progressed their charts, both with accurate birth times, to the day of my own birth.

The result stunned me. BOTH grandparents’ progressed Ascendants were 9 degrees Virgo, BOTH progressed Midheavens were 28 degrees Taurus. And my Angles? Yes, you’ve guessed it. My natal Ascendant is 9 degrees Virgo, and natal Midheaven is 28 degrees Taurus. My North Node is also 28 Taurus – and my pre-natal solar eclipse is 28 degrees Taurus, thereby emphasising the significance of the IC/MC axis in the transmission of family fate, karma, genetic inheritance or whatever you wish to term it. I have written about this before, and described my feeling then of having been ‘brushed by the wing of a great Mystery’(2).

Recently, whilst thinking about this article, I re-calculated that set of progressions, just in case I had somehow made a mistake all those years ago. The result was the same.

Part Two of this post follows shortly. As ever, your comments/feedback are most welcome.

–––––––––––––

Endnotes:

This two-part post was first published as Secondary Progressions – stepping into the Mystery  in the May/June 2017 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.

(1)The Inner Wheel: http://theinnerwheel.com/the-inner-wheel-a-new-look-at-secondary-progressions/

(2) Unfortunately, I can’t now recall where!

Zodiac

Zodiac

********

1500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

Do you do Moondark? Maybe you should…

The web is full of articles about the upcoming Leo New Moon. New Moons always attract our attention,which indeed they merit. However – the Balsamic lunar phase, where we are now, does not attract nearly as much upfront focus. It should, in my view…and I am not alone here! 

The Sun/Moon Month

The Sun/Moon Month

That fine, poetic astrological writer Dana Gerhardt has this to say: ‘As the final phase in the lunation cycle, the Balsamic Moon is the monthly “sleep time”. During the three to four days of this phase, vitality and spirit are replenished, fueling your start at the next New Moon….if you could observe just one Moon phase per cycle, this should be the one… ‘ (my emphasis)

Our increasingly frenetic 24/7 culture, revved up in recent years as it has been by the arrival and increasing dominance of social media, does not encourage us to build a few days of rest and recovery into each month. Can you imagine the average boss’s reaction to the statement “I’m having retreat time now. It’s Moondark. Bye!!”  And yet: we all know what happens if we run ourselves too hard without adequate rest, for too long. For some of us – and I speak from hard personal experience here, folks! – the price can be very high.

So – what is this Balsamic lunar phase, and what is Moondark? Why should we pay it attention? As can be seen from the above image, there are eight key phases in the monthly lunar cycle, flowing from the New to the Balsamic Moon. A good summary of each and what they mean can be found HERE.

The Balsamic lunar phase begins with the waning Sun/Moon semi-square. The Moon is a slim Crescent, forty-five degrees behind the Sun –  that beautiful, fragile, slender waning crescent moon which we may see each month if the skies are clear. Then it disappears. We are in Moondark now, the latter part of the Balsamic phase, the last couple of days of the dying energy of the previous month’s Cancer New Moon.

waning crescent Moon

waning crescent Moon

My aim in this short post is to give you a flavour of three key facets pertaining to the Balsamic phase, and Moondark in particular. Hopefully that will stimulate you enough to do your own reflection/research. Those facets are:  the Balsamic phase of each monthly lunar cycle throughout the year; those people born on the Balsamic Moon; and the thirty-year progressed Sun/Moon cycle, where the final, Balsamic phase lasts 3-4 years.

The Monthly cycle – Balsamic phase

Having been born in the Balsamic phase, in Moondark just before a Leo New Moon, I have long been aware of the few days before any New Moon as a special time, a contemplative time: a time to take stock both collectively and personally. Those of us who wish and need to retreat regularly to preserve our balance and well-being tend to be regarded as odd by mainstream society, where ‘time out’ is increasingly hard to find, and is not supported by the culture as a whole.

But humans have always benefited from times of quiet contemplation, in whatever way suits them best: listening to music, doing yoga/meditation, praying to whatever Higher Power sustains them, making or contemplating art, walking in Nature –especially by the sea, that great universal symbol of dissolution and emergence.

Even half an hour a day of retreat time on a regular basis is nourishing for the spirit. In ancient times, women used to retreat together monthly during menstruation time which was seen as a period of potency, and hidden power – a liminal time to link through dreams and ritual to worlds unseen.

It would be good if individually we could get into the habit of using the Balsamic moon time to find some retreat space in whatever way suited us. I certainly find myself feeling more ‘scratchy’ and irritable than usual during Balsamic times, if Life demands that I put myself under more pressure than my spirit wants or needs. It would be interesting to know if other folk feel like this too, at the end of the lunar cycle, before New Moon energy comes in and takes form.

Born on the Balsamic Moon

I have found both from my own life and the lives of clients and students with whom I have worked over the years, that being born in the Balsamic moon phase, and especially during Moondark, the very end of the old cycle, brings with it a contemplative nature, an ‘inner’ orientation, a need to give oneself more space and retreat than most people seem to need. Whilst doing some reading around this topic today, I found this quote which certainly spoke to me, and which may speak to some of you who were born in the Balsamic phase:

‘…This time is essentially one of transition, a chance to contemplate what has passed, tie up loose ends, journey inwards, and prepare for new beginnings ahead.  You have inherited the meditative and introspective characteristics of this phase and yours is a dreamy, contemplative personality. Intuitive and far-sighted, you have innate wisdom and a mystical understanding of the workings of Mother Nature and of the human condition.  For you, activity is spiritual and intellectual rather than physical.  Your experiences involve endings and passings, so you are likely to live through many changes.  Later life, rather than the earlier years, holds the key to your happiness and success...’

TransAngeles – thanks for this sensitive and perceptive comment!

The 30-year Progressed Sun/Moon cycle

I use this cycle as a very helpful guide to the stage of their life phase clients are in when they come for a consultation. When a cycle is coming to an end, when the 3-4 year Balsamic period of life is upon us, then the wisest course to take is that of stepping back, turning inwards, taking stock…and waiting – until the Progressed New Moon arrives, and forward motion, the gradual taking shape of a new life phase, gradually begins. Just as farmers do not plant new crops in winter, so we are wise not to begin a new project during the Balsamic moon phase or its end phase, Moondark.

Here is Dana Gerhardt again, with her words of wisdom:

“When will it end?” is everybody’s first question on learning they’ve entered a progressed Balsamic phase. No matter how colorfully I paint its virtues, they peer beyond to a bleaker landscape, to a three-to-four-year sentence of all loss and no gain. I can see it in their eyes…. I tell them this is the richest spiritual time. I tell them when my own progressed Balsamic phase was over, I had nostalgia for it. I cheer: “You will too!” But it’s a tough sell….”

I would certainly endorse this from my own experience of beginning a new journey when I was approaching the end of a whole 30-year cycle. The result was a long period of enforced retreat until the Progressed New Moon told me it was time to emerge and begin again. It was an enriching and deepening time. But very tough whilst it was happening. I should have taken astrology’s advice, not that of my own ego!

There is a great deal more to be said about this fascinating and important life phase which lies behind the New Moon. I do hope this short post piques your interest sufficiently to devote more attention to it in future!

Zodiac

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

1250 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Born on the cusp? No such thing!

“What does it mean if I’m born on the cusp?” This is one of the the most frequent questions asked of astrologers. So – I thought I’d revisit it for the benefit of new readers – with thanks to Rian, who asked the original question.

“Could you talk a little bit about cusps? How much does a person with their sun at 29.5 degrees take on the next sign? Or is it black and white. I think it might be a fade-out/ fade-in, but I’ve never found anything written about this. Thank you.”

Anne’s Answer: I’m glad you asked this question. It’s one astrologers are asked A LOT ! I’ll answer it in two stages.

Firstly, let’s imagine someone out there was due to give birth mid to late June 2013 in Glasgow, UK, and was wondering whether their baby would have the Sun in Gemini or Cancer.

At midnight GMT on 21st June (1.00 am UK summer time) that year, the Sun was at the very end of  Gemini:29 degrees 48 minutes. By midnight GMT on 22nd June (1.00 am UK summer time), the Sun had moved to the next sign and occupied the very beginning of Cancer: 0 degrees 45 minutes. Thus our imaginary child arriving on 21st June 2013 some time after midnight GMT  in Glasgow,  UK would have been in popular terms, ‘born on the cusp’.

However, as anyone who takes their interest in astrology ‘beyond the Sun Signs’ will very quickly realise, there is a lot more to astrology than its popular Sun Sign face would suggest. With an accurately calculated horoscope which uses the date, place and vital TIME of birth, an astrologer (or, these days, anyone with access to a reasonable computer programme ) can work out to the minute where the Sun is on that child’s birthday.

To illustrate this, look at the image below. (click on it to enlarge). Our imaginary cusp Baby X, born in Glasgow UK at 6.00 am British Summer Time(5.00 am GMT) on Friday 21st June 2013, has the Sun in Gemini – at 29 degrees 59 minutes. If this child had been born only five minutes later, however, he/she would have the Sun in Cancer – at 0 degrees 00 minutes.

Thus, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as ‘born on the cusp’. Our Baby X, horoscope accurately calculated,  is either – in Sun Sign terms – a Gemini or a Cancer.

baby-x-uk

baby-x-uk

However, Rian, your guess was quite correct. Someone born with the Sun at the very beginning of the 30 degrees of any zodiac sign has a stronger, more vivid and obvious  ‘charge’ of the sign’s energy than someone born at the very end.

Imagine you are standing in a favourite room which you have occupied for a long time. You are becoming a little bored, jaded with what that room may have to offer. Suddenly, a door you’d never noticed before opens slightly. A shaft of new light streams through from another room. You step forward, intrigued. Could this be a new adventure? Or, to conclude our analogy: the Sun in fickle, restless Gemini is becoming stale – the prospect of entry into a journey through another sign, watery mysterious Cancer, beckons….

The second stage of my answer, though, brings in a little of the more complex picture which more in-depth astrology has to offer.

Take another look at Baby X’s horoscope, featured above. (click on it to enlarge)

Even those of you with very little knowledge of astrology should be able to imagine the 360 degree zodiac circle before you as a stage. Stand in the centre, and look around the circle.

You will see various symbols, representing the planets. Humans have been standing on Earth, looking out into the night sky, plotting the planets’ positions against an imaginary 360 degree great circle, the zodiac, for more than six thousand years. That view has never changed, despite our knowledge for several centuries that the Sun, not Earth, is the centre of our solar system. We still look out from the same Earth to the same  celestial view.

On the left of the circle, just above and below the horizontal black line,  fall the sectors of Gemini and Cancer. Our Baby X may be a Sun Gemini – only just! – but very close to that Sun is Jupiter (desire to connect to the Big Picture)   and not far away is Mars (action). This gives our Baby X a very strong emphasis on the Gemini theme.

However the horizontal black line is his/her Ascendant or Rising Sign, revealing the way s/he appears to the world in general. This is in the sign of Cancer. Just below this point, squashed together on 22 degrees of Cancer, are Venus (urge to relate) and Mercury (drive toward communication, expression). Thus Baby X has five out of the ten planets (or characters on the stage), and Rising Sign, occupying only two of the twelve signs of the zodiac.

This places a very strong emphasis on the signs of Gemini and Cancer, rational air and emotional water. Thus, at a very simple level – full interpretation has to take all the characters, their locations and interactions on the zodiac stage into account – Baby X will have the gifts and pains of that classic Shakespearian clash between reason and passion, to wrestle with and reconcile, be driven by–  for as long as  s/he lives.

A long answer for a short question! But I do hope it sheds some light – and reveals in the process a deeper astrology ‘beyond the Sun Signs’. Do let me know what you think!

And you new visitors and Followers out there. Drop by with your observations….. and, of course,  your Questions….

Zodiac

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

900 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

Some thoughts on Twins: do you have an astrological one?

I’ve been feeling celebratory over here at Astrology: Questions and Answers in recent days. It has dawned on me that I’ve kept this blog going for four whole years!

It’s time to say a few “Thank you” – s: firstly of course to you, my lovely readers, who keep me going with your lively comments both on my actual posts and on my Astrology: Questions and Answers Facebook page.

Next, to Mary Plumb of the Mountain Astrologer blog who kindly invited me to be Guest blogger there on 18th February 2013. I decided to write about some of the most memorable questions I’ve been asked as an astrologer over the years, and was so pleased with the lively responses to that post that a seed was planted in my mind, from which  has sprouted this now well-established blog! Thanks, Mary!

And to Louise Vergette-Lynn of  the Exeter Astrology Group here in the UK, who was so encouraging a couple of years ago when my first rather faltering attempts to set up a Facebook Page promoting the blog made me feel like giving up. I didn’t – thanks to her….

So – to mark the occasion I thought I’d re-publish the very first post – on that topic of perennial interest, Twins. My writing on this topic has come very near the top of my stats list every single year. Here, I am talking not about blood twins, but astrological twins, and how via astrological symbolism we can see how we unconsciously ‘twin’ with those people who complement our own energies.

Twins

Twins

Linda’s Question: Submitted on 2013/06/27 at 5:43 pm

I’ve always found twins fascinating. What’s even more fascinating is the kind of relationship that develops between people who aren’t blood relatives of any sort, yet seem to be “cut from the same cloth”. We talk about being “simpatico” – has anyone ever done any studies on such people to see if there are similarities in their charts?

My Answer:

Well, most regular practitioners of astrology do this kind of research at least informally as part of both their work and their own lives.

For example, I used to wonder why most of my close friends and associates, work colleagues and bosses were Sun Virgos, Pisceans and Aquarians. Then I had my horoscope drawn up.

I found that a key axis in the horoscope, ie the Ascendant/Descendant which describes how you meet the world, the persona you present to that world, and key relationships you draw to you – was in the signs of Virgo and Pisces. Thus quite unconsciously I was drawing to me relationships with people whose solar energies symbolically complemented my own….

Furthermore, the sign opposite to Leo in the zodiac wheel is Aquarius, and you know the old saw about opposites attracting!

Anne W's Horoscope

Anne W’s Horoscope

(click on image to enlarge)

Time and again I have known marriage/relationship partnerships where one person is Sun Leo and the other Aquarius, or vice versa.  Or Sun Taurus and Sun Scorpio. Or Sun Capricorn and Sun Cancer. And so on, all round the opposite pairs in the Zodiac circle. I am married to an Aquarian, and his Aquarian brother also has a Sun Leo wife – so we are one small illustration of this!

Also, when I got around to drawing family horoscopes, I discovered my father and mother both had Virgo as their Ascending signs. My brother and sister both have the sign of Virgo strongly emphasised in their horoscopes. My husband has a Virgo Ascendant, as does my (Sun in Pisces) stepson, and my stepson’s stepfather, who used to be married to my sister (work that one out….)

Any set of family horoscopes has similar variations on key themes, where the planetary placements and the zodiac signs in which they fall symbolically tell a vivid story of interweaving energy patterns, both clashing, compulsive and harmonious – as in life lived out.

Furthermore, in nearly twenty years of teaching astrology classes to a very wide range of students ranging in occupation from bus drivers to consultant psychiatrists (who both turned up in the same class one year) I found over and over again that the planetary pattern of the horoscope which I always drew up for the date, time and place of the start of the class was reflected in striking ways in the horoscopes of the students who turned up.

One year stands out in my memory. I began the class when there was a line-up of several planets in the dark, intense and powerful sign of Scorpio. The class composition that year was like no other before or since: all ten of the students had a preponderance of planets in Scorpio and/or strong emphases on the planet Pluto, ruler of the sign Scorpio.

I enjoyed teaching the class , an intense and powerful bunch of people who absorbed every word I said ( I think….!) but said very little. It was exhausting though. Like teaching a black hole!

On a totally contrasting note, there was another year where the dominant energies of the horoscope for that class were much, much lighter and “buzzier”.

The sun and other planets (as I recall) were concentrated in the signs of Virgo and Libra, with the planet Mercury dominant. This symbolism was expressed in a hardworking, charming and co-operative, and highly communicative  group of students who were very easy to work with.

Two students from that group, Doreen and Sheilagh ( just in case they happen to read this – I know they will not mind being mentioned! ) had such similar horoscopes that I asked them to sit beside each other, commenting that they would find a great deal in common. Nearly a quarter of a century later, they are still very good friends…..astrological twins in spirit…..

I hope this gives you a flavour of what it is like observing, through the lens of astrological symbolism,  the shifting dance of interconnected energy comprising our small earthly world. AND –

 Do, please, share your stories!

Zodiac

Zodiac

800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013/2017

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House